By Frank Wolf
This is a head scratcher, Just 22 games into the 2016-17 season the Florida Panthers have fired head coach Gerard Gallant. At 11-10-1 and just two points shy of a playoff position the move left most NHL observers wondering, why?
It’s still very early in the season. Barely a third of the season has been played. Philosophical differences between Gallant and the Panthers brass was perhaps the biggest reason for the dismissal.
Just last season Gallant finished as a runner-up for Coach of the Year. Just this past January the Panthers signed Gallant to an extension that would have run through 2018-19.
Florida has been without Jonathon Huberdeau since the season began, Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen have missed time and recently Alex Petrovic went out with an ankle injury and could be sidelined until late January.
The move is puzzling to say the least. GM Tom Rowe stated that he wanted the team to play a more “Up-Tempo” style of hockey and Gallant was looking to get bigger, bulkier. “We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, could move the puck quickly, pressure the puck in all three zones,” Rowe said. “Gerard and I talked about it. He said he wanted a little bit more size, and we just decided to go in a different direction.”
The Panthers fired Gallant as the team was preparing to leave for Chicago. The equipment managers pulled Gallant’s luggage away from the team bus and a taxi cab took Gallant away. An embarrassing and absolutely pathetic move by the Florida Panthers.